Follow by Email

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Art demo

I did this tonight - most of it - during the demonstration portion of my gig at Utrecht. Mostly I talked. Yikes, I talked a lot. But people listened and seemed interested and it's very, very cool to see people inspired to do their own sketch work.

By the way, this electric beater came FREE from one of Cleveland's great vintage shops, Flower Child. I was going to buy it, but when it became clear it didn't work, the owner just gave it to me. I wanted it to draw anyway, though it would've been really great if it worked. It weighs a ton, but the design is just so 50s.

Should you want to read the page text, just click on the picture.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Martians! Utrecht! Sketchcrawl!

First, the image: Thanks to Tami at Tamslines I decided to draw Carlo's boiled wool martian (left), whom I'm told is named Martian. Happenstance would have it that I'd made a little martian out of Play-Doh some months ago at work (it was late, I was waiting for a call, OK?) and really loved it all out of proportion to reality. Yesterday, one of the IT doctors decided to do a little work on my computer and moved some things around and my blue martian lost his right arm and both antennae. Now I am annoyed all out of proportion to reality. And since every still life (and perhaps all martian life) needs an odd number, I threw in an orange martian, who seems to nicely round out the collection. I might have to render him in Play-Doh at some point.

I might just add that if you're a sketcher and you don't know what to sketch and you're getting yourself all worked up about it and thinking what a failure you are (not that we ever have these feelings), give yourself a break and decide, "Today, I'll draw just one martian." Then draw a martian. You'll encounter parts of yourself you barely recognize, parts you haven't encountered since about fourth grade. It'll be a nice, nonthreatening experience. I called the page Martian Tuesday, which was sort of taken from other blogs (there's Illustration Friday, and Teri at Painted Daisies, who winters in Arizona, celebrates Cactus Monday with drawings of prickly pear and such). I had no though to invent a new Martian every Tuesday, but now I'm thinking, Why not?

Second, if you live in the Cleveland area and feel like coming to visit me, I'll be at the Utrecht store at 6 p.m. Thursday night (Jan. 31) prattling on about keeping a sketchbook and perhaps drawing members of the audience, who knows. The store is on Coventry in Cleveland Heights.

Third, if you don't want to hear me prattle on but just want to add to your OWN sketchbook, come to the February edition of the Cleveland Sketchcrawl this Saturday at 10 a.m. We meet in the middle of the old Arcade, which runs between Superior and Euclid Avenues a couple blocks east of Public Square. Then we sketch in different spots for about two hours. This week we'll saunter across the street to draw inside Cleveland Public Library. Sketching is fun. We are fun. Would you really rather clean this Saturday morning? No, I didn't think so.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Favored objects

Among people I've gotten to know a bit in these recent, hard-to-please, crotchety middle age years, Maureen McHugh at No Feeling of Falling is a favorite. (Bonus: I actually KNOW Maureen in real life, not just in the blogging world.)
Anyway, she posted an invitation to her blog visitors recently to post pictures of where they sleep, which gave me the impetus to draw this sketch page.
Where I sleep currently has a rust-colored fleece blanket that is very warm, if not very pretty. Warmth matters in Cleveland in January. The darker colored dots on the blanket are not an accident - they're cat-paw imprints.
Also, I cannot help but add that a) the creature on the left is a real cat, not a stuffed animal, and b)the Raggedy Ann doll on the right should not be interpreted as
a sign that I am One of Those Women Who Still Amasses Stuffed Animals and Decorates the Bed With Them.
As a kid, I had a Raggedy Ann made for me by my great-aunt. It got lost during a move :-(, which over time began to bother me so much that I went out and bought a sewing machine so I could make a new one. I made the one you see here, and one for each of my daughters, too.
I think they actually hate them. I find their Raggedy Ann dolls stuffed into corners, missing their aprons (can you imagine!) and generally disrespected. But I'm still proud that I made the darned dolls, and did a good job on them, by the way.

So when I make the bed, the doll goes on my side. At Christmas, I gave Carlo this wigged-out martian made from boiled wool, and I usually put the martian on Carlo's side, but as you can see, there was an occupant there.


Oh, by the way - the box on Carlo's bed-stand is a watch-winder. It's a device that keeps mechanical watches running even when you're not wearing them.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Well, this is interesting. See the white marks on the image on the left and in front? They were created by Photoshop, which has decided to do some really strange stuff when I'm uploading images to my computer. The cursor turns into a weird pattern of splotches on the screen when I'm in Photoshop. If I were the suspicious kind, I would say it was possible that my 12-year-old, Photoshop-obsessed daughter had something to do with this. Unfortunately, I don't think I can blame her for this one. Maybe she can help me UN-DO it, though.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I've been on a hunt for owl-related goodies for a newspaper photo shoot. I found a couple I just had to have, including the green purse that Jackie bought me while we were out shopping on, um, her birthday. I love Jackie's birthday.

The thing on the right is a little tea pot and tea cup. It's sitting on a box I just happened to have lying around.

And of course, owls rule.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Last week we were at a great litte inn in southern Ohio called Murphin Ridge where you could really eat yourself happily to death. Breakfast the first morning - eaten between attempts to surreptitiously capture another table at their own breakfast - was four-cheese quiche, buttermilk biscuits and a spiced fruit compote. Seriously.
After that I unfolded my little sketching stool to try to capture the image of the innkeepers' home on the hill. I don't love either of these sketches except that they recall the moments themselves, which is a great value.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Nothing much going on here, I was just in a place with little to draw so I drew invented faces. It was sort of amusing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Red Dog and the Steak n Shake

One page, two drawings, two days.
Red Dog lives at the Murphin Ridge Inn, a hospitable country place where she was dropped as a puppy and taken in by the innkeepers. She is an excellent inn mascot - dig the pointy ears - but she's a tad shy and likely to slink away at the very moment you hope she'll saunter up and let you pat her head. So I was out sitting on my little art stool Saturday, doing a bad drawing of the inn (that's not my usual overcritical judgment, it was just objectively bad) when Red Dog came up, sat down like this right in front of me and let me sketch her for a few minutes. Then I looked down at my drawing, looked up again and she was gone.

The second sketch was done at the Steak 'n' Shake in Manfield, Ohio, where we stopped for a gluttonous lunch after several gluttonous meals over the weekend. I had a milkshake, even. Well, half of one. Well, three-quarters. I never order milkshakes. It's one of those foods I think of as bad to the bone. But I did on Sunday. And I am not sorry.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thistle walk

Part of a get-away weekend involved a little hike in the woods and fields behind the inn where we were staying. It was a very un-January morning, just cold enough to freeze the dew on the wintering plant life. Thistles and thorns and brambles marked the way, but so did little pine trees and dried grasses and bony tall trunks hung with birds' nests and squirrel homes. What I liked most about the walk was the quiet, and the sense I had of being half-lost but not scary-lost, like when I was a kid wandering in the woods that didn't yet know it was to become a cul-de-sac.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A sniffle here and a little tummy trouble there

Anyone remember taking Coke syrup for an upset stomach as a kid?
Anyone know why you can't buy it any more? Was it the idea of all those good well-bred mothers pushing an alcohol-based remedy on their kids?
Wellll ... at least that one tasted good.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

We crawled

There was something repellent, I'll admit, about the sound of sketchcrawling on a January day. We went anyway, four of us, confident that we'd be able to find enough to do inside. We did. There is almost always enough to do inside, even if sketchcrawling seems to me an outdoor activity - at least in theory.

We started in the atrium of what was and maybe still is known as the BP Building in downtown Cleveland. I have a strange nostalgia about this tower, which I remember being built. It was a headquarters for British Petroleum here, and BP needed a headquarters here because it had swallowed up Sohio. Sohio was the gas station of my youth - before I was pumping my own gas. Anyway, BP seemed brash and full of itself during the 80s, and now it's gone and the big pink granite tower is occupied incompletely with a mishmash of other businesses. Josh, our sketchcrawl leader, is young enough that his memories of the BP Building encompass hearing about how it swayed during an earthquake in the mid-80s. He was in preschool. (I was in my twenties, working a bit closer to the epicenter but on the first floor of a newspaper office, and when I heard about the swaying skyscrapers downtown I came to be glad I wasn't there.)

Incidentally, the black thing in the middle of that sketch is a granite bowl-style fountain. Got a little carried away there with the darks.

After the atrium, we headed inside the Soldiers & Sailors Monument, a memorial on Public Square dedicated to the Civil War. The B&W sketch on the left is from part of a bronze frieze depicting Lincoln and other "statesmen" who stood up against slavery. Interesting tidbit: Lincoln's right hand once held a chain that was supposed to be part of a slave shackle, but someone stole it. People steal things with some frequency from the monument, including swords that are part of the exterior. The small sketch on the right was part of a Tiffany-style window (there are 14 of them) that I didn't get around to coloring.

Wonder what other people saw? Check out Maureen's Lost in Wonder blog. She's a regular, and has a very fun site.

Next month we'll be at the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. First Saturday of the month. If you're interested, we meet at the Old Arcade at 10 a.m., then wander and sketch for two hours. And we're nice.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Team spirit

A very recent discussion about the words "ironic" and "sarcastic" -- how they're similar, how they're different -- came to mind during the titling of this post. It is both ironic and sarcastic.

Mother Lion was angry today, but she observed the etiquette that governs high school sports and said nothing in protest, except to her sketchbook. For which she does not apologize. (And the sketchbook page made the daughter laugh later. She laughed without bitterness, which the mother admired.)

The mother will say little more on the matter, except that the sketchbook page became false about halfway through the game, when the mother stopped feeling neutral about who won or lost and started cheering, internally, for the opposing team, which won.

I will show and tell on the sketchcrawl later. Thank you for sticking by me in when my watercolors are less pretty, if you get my drift.


It's cooold in Cleveland today, but it's also the first Saturday of the month which means we are sketchcrawling downtown. I anticipate sketching indoors, but I'm not sure where we'll end up. You'll just have to come back to visit and see.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Resolutions and intentions

It's become kind of chic to disregard new year's resolutions -- to diss them as a waste of time. "Resolutions don't work!" claim all the self-proclaimed experts and many media types. (There's a local disc jockey who blathers on about his cynicism toward resolutions all the time.)

Oh, horseshit. They work if you want them to work. If you regard them as a stupid exercise, the motivation for which you won't even be able to remember by mid-January, then you get exactly what you planned to get.

I don't call them resolutions, I call them intentions, and I think there's a difference, starting with how one word makes me feel over the other. I hear the sound of defeat in the lower registers (aka "the Eeyore notes") of "resolution." The word "intention," on the other hand, brings to mind a quiet determination that claims to be steady but not inflexible. It allows for both the strength of the human will and the possibility of unforeseen events.

So add this to the thousand and one ways I am so not cool. I like a new year and its illusion of the blank slate. I like the way it encourages me to consider the year that has passed, and to think about things I intend to do - big, trivial, in-between - and maybe even write them down. Last year at this time, "see a screech owl in the wild" was one of my intentions, and it happened in March, and maybe it would have happened even if I had not stated it as intention, but I like to think the two are connected.

So here's a little list. I am one of the most unresolved people I know, but I am modestly intention-filled, and that's good enough for right now.

Got any intentions you're willing to share?